Your carefully sown seeds should be showing some signs of life by now. Remember to keep them cool and bright as they start to grow.
The next job is preparing the ground outside, probably not terribly appealing right now unless you are outside the UK! If your ground is too wet to dig, a mulch of compost would be better than nothing at the moment. Sweet peas like a rich, moisture-retentive soil.
They prefer an open, sunny position, so avoid anywhere that is in shade for more than a couple of hours a day.
I plant in long 25m rows so I can have an overwhelming quantity to harvest. If you are planning on something smaller, a teepee/wigmam is attractive (made from hazel or older bamboo canes). Sweet peas must be picked or dead headed to keep flowering. I find it hard to reach the flowers in the centre of a teepee, which can make this task a bit of a chore.
I also do not enjoy tying in, as it is far too labour intensive. I find bean netting offers enough support for sweet peas to do most of this bit themselves. It is cheap, quick to erect and creates a veritable wall of scent once the netting is clothed with Sweet Peas. Here is a picture of our indoor sweet peas at this time last year. Note the sunshine….
Here’s how we prepare our rows. Ground is dug over (ideally in the autumn) with plenty of well rotted FYM. Stout 2.4m posts are banged in at intervals, approx. 3-4m apart. A hole is drilled through the top of each post, wire (electric fence wire) is threaded through and at the same time woven through the top of the netting and tied as taut as you can . Think of it like hanging a simple curtain, with the bean netting secured to the post using a staple gun to stop any wafting about. Depending on the length of your rows, your end rows may need bracing with a post section notched in and dug into the ground.
This picture was taken by Shannon Robinson last year, when we let the public pick their own. Our next installment will cover hardening off and planting.